The federal government shutdown is politically driven, unnecessary, and costly to the American people. As many Marylanders are aware, the shutdown is having a negative impact on our economy, on federal employees in our region and around the country, and on all Americans who rely on the critical services provided by our federal workforce. It is irresponsible and unacceptable that Congress has still not reached a responsible agreement to end this shutdown and allow the people’s government and thousands of federal employees across the country to get back to work.
According to the Governor’s office, our state could lose $1 to $2 million in revenue and $15 million in economic activity for each day of the shutdown. Employees at federal facilities throughout our region are unable to serve the American people and are unsure of when they will receive pay. Not only do furloughs leave our veterans, seniors, low-income families, and others without the assistance they need, but they undermine the morale and mission of those who are forced to stay at home and sit on their hands instead of performing their important role in public service. One constituent who works at NASA Goddard wrote to House Speaker John Boehner: “We in the NASA community are completely committed to our jobs. For reasons over which we had no control, we are prevented from doing our jobs in which we take a tremendous amount of pride. For us, this shutdown cuts far deeper than whether we get paid.” This is no way for our nation to run its affairs.
In addition to these furloughs, the private sector is also suffering from the uncertainty caused by the shutdown. Companies that do business with the federal government won’t receive small business loans, payments, necessary permits, and other resources critical to their success until the government reopens. Likewise, retailers, restaurants, and other small businesses in our communities are adversely affected when federal employees are tightening their belts due to uncertainty over when they’ll go back to work or get paid.
There is a way we can end this shutdown right away. Three times, the Senate has passed a compromise measure to reopen the government at funding levels asked for by House Republicans. Yet Republicans, who control which bills can come to the Floor for a vote, have refused to allow a single vote on the Senate’s legislation. Speaker Boehner often says that the House ought to be permitted the chance to work its will, and I believe if the House were able to do so a majority of the Representatives would vote in favor of the Senate’s measure to re-open the government. Instead, the House of Representatives is fiddling while our people and our democracy are suffering and disgusted with their government.
At the same time, we are facing another approaching deadline that we must address in the coming days. The Treasury Department has warned that Congress must act by October 17th to ensure that our country has the ability to pay the bills it has already accrued. I’m hopeful that the House will act responsibly and without delay to give our economy, businesses, families, our financial markets, and the world the certainty they need and deserve that America will not default on its obligations for the first time in its history.
For the sake of our working families and our economy, it’s our responsibility to re-open the government and ensure our nation pays its bills on time. I continue to urge my colleagues to work in a bipartisan way to end the shutdown and prevent a default as soon as possible. Following action on these two critical issues, I would hope that all parties will come together to work toward a big, balanced agreement on long-term fiscal issues that can end the uncertainty for our economy and set our nation back on a fiscally sustainable path.